Risk assessment conference

Friday, 03 February, 2006

Representatives of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), two international bodies that are at the forefront of the development of risk-based assessment for both chemical and microbiological hazards, will be in Australia for the first time next month to speak to food scientists on the current status of the science and its implementation.

The 2nd International Conference on Microbial Risk Assessment: Foodborne Hazards is being held as a joint event with the 12th Australian Food Microbiology Conference, organized by AIFST and the Australian Food Safety Centre of Excellence, at the Sofitel Wentworth Hotel in Sydney from 21-23 February.

The FAO and WHO is also sponsoring a pre-conference workshop on Microbial Risk Assessment on Monday 20 February.

The combined events feature an impressive list of Australian food scientists and technologists as well as 26 international speakers and risk assessment experts.

According to WHO, foodborne illness caused by microorganisms is a growing public health problem, which needs be reduced by implementing risk mitigation strategies.

The overall objective of risk assessment is to provide estimates on the probability of disease occurrence using a well structured approach based on four steps: hazard identification, hazard characterization (dose-response), exposure assessment and risk characterization.

Changes in eating patterns, such as a preference for fresh and minimally processed foods, the increasingly longer interval between processing and consumption of foods and the increasing prevalence of eating food prepared outside the home all contribute to the increased incidences of foodborne illness ascribed to microbiological organisms.

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